Friday, December 20, 2013

More Than One Million Americans Set to Lose Benefits on December 28

Langevin and Cicilline Urge Extension of Federal Unemployment Insurance

Washington, DC – Congressmen Jim Langevin (D-RI) and David Cicilline (D-RI) today urged an immediate extension of federal unemployment benefits. Without action, 1.3 million Americans will soon lose these benefits, including 4,900 unemployed Rhode Islanders. An additional 8,900 Rhode Islanders would lose their benefits in the first six months of 2014.

“In a state with an unemployment rate at 9 percent, this benefit cut is unacceptable,” said Langevin. “Our state is starting to show the signs of economic recovery, but that process has been a slow one, and cutting unemployment insurance would be a step in the wrong direction. I urge Speaker Boehner and my colleagues in Congress to bring this issue to a vote so we can extend this relief on which so many families rely.”

“In just 9 days, 1.3 million Americans and 4,900 Rhode Island families, who have exhausted nearly all of their resources to stay afloat, will lose the only safety net they have left. We cannot allow these benefits to expire and I strongly urge Speaker Boehner to call the House back into session and pass an extension before it is too late,” said Cicilline. “With so many Rhode Islanders still struggling to find work, it is absolutely critical that we extend this emergency assistance to protect these families and our fragile economic recovery.”

The Congressmen applauded the work of their Senate colleagues Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse for their leadership on extending benefits. Reed introduced legislation Wednesday to allow those affected to continue receiving benefits for three months while Congress determines a long-term plan.

“Senator Reed has truly been a leader on this issue, and I am hopeful that his efforts to extend benefits immediately will be successful in the Senate,” Langevin continued.

The federal unemployment insurance program, formerly called Emergency Unemployment Compensation, took effect in 2008 and has been reauthorized several times since, as the economy continues its recovery. Despite the progress made since near economic collapse, there are still 1.3 million fewer jobs than there were before the recession began, and long-term unemployment as a percentage of the unemployed is 37 percent. On average, nationwide, the program provides about $300 per week to recipients.

Failure to extend federal unemployment insurance would also hurt job growth locally and throughout the nation, costing the economy 240,000 jobs, according to the White House Council of Economic Advisers.